Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia was out of action for five months due to an ankle injury Getty

Manchester United's struggle under Louis van Gaal is down to the number of injuries they had throughout the course of the 2015/16 season, according to Antonio Valencia. The Red Devils were without the services of several key players, who were sidelined for a lengthy spell.

The list includes the likes of Luke Shaw, Valencia himself, captain Wayne Rooney, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and winger-turned-defender Ashley Young. The Ecuadorian international suffered an ankle injury in October 2015 and returned to action during the 20-time English champions' 1-1 draw against Liverpool on 17 March.

Shaw suffered a double leg fracture in September 2015 and since then has been on the sidelines. While Young picked up a groin injury and the former Everton striker is sidelined with a knee injury.

"It has affected the way the manager has had to work. Your hands are tied. If you have a squad of 20 players, and 10 are injured, then you are having to work with half a squad," Valencia told Sky Sports.

"It is not just short term injuries either. You look at Luke Shaw, myself, Wayne Rooney, we have been out for a long period. The bad form that we have had in that time has to be down to the amount of injuries that we have had."

Louis van Gaal admitted that both Schweinsteiger and Rooney are suffering from a similar problem and also confirmed that Shaw would return to training after recovering from the horror injury. Valencia believes the return of key players from injury can help United push for a top four finish with seven games remaining in this season.

"That is bound to affect performances, but now we are getting people back, we need to focus and really fight for the place in the Champions League," the former Wigan Athletic man explained.

"It is also down to the Premier League, it is tough league. One week you can play very well, and then the next week you are up against a team you are expected to beat, one that is fighting relegation, and they turn it on."

United secured a narrow 1-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford over the weekend and they travel to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham Hotspur in the next fixture. The Red Devils are fifth in the table with 53 points, one point behind Manchester City.